For current undergraduates, prospects after university might seem dire. Certainly the statistics suggest uncomfortable truths: 24.8% of 21-year-old graduates are unemployed, approximately 83 graduates apply for every job, and nearly a million young people are out of work.
Meanwhile, a recent report by the Prince’s Trust has warned that youth unemployment will lead a generation to be trapped within a “miserable spiral,” and Nick Clegg has lamented the “long-term scarring effects” of unemployment. This constant pessimism can damage the approach of graduates to their career and the ambitions for their working life.
But peel back the statistics and a more nuanced picture emerges. Let’s take the big figure: 24.8% of 21-year-old graduates are unemployed. Of course, this is a disheartening figure, but one that misses several points as Charlie Ball notes: “In the case of graduates, this means that if you have a job or are starting a course in, say, September, but looking for a few weeks work in the summer, you’re unemployed. If you waited until your finals were done, looked for a job, and have one to start next week – you are unemployed”.
And the statistic only applies to 21-year-old graduates. But not everyone graduates at 21: people take gap years, foreign-language degrees require a year abroad, while some science courses such as chemistry last four years. For 22-year-olds, the rate drops to 16%, while falling even further to 8.6% for 23-year-olds.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor